Mayor Johnson announces plans to reopen shuttered Roseland mental health clinic, expand services

Sarah Schulte  Image
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Chicago mayor announces plans to expand mental health services
Mayor Brandon Johnson revealed details on his plan to expand mental health services in Chicago Thursday morning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Brandon Johnson revealed details on his plan to expand mental health services in Chicago Thursday morning.

He made the announcement at the Roseland Mental Health Center on East 115th Street.

ABC7 Chicago is now streaming 24/7. Click here to watch

It was previously closed, but, on Thursday, the mayor said it would reopen by the end of the year.

SEE ALSO: Professional golfer Grayson Murray died by suicide, parents confirm

The clinic was shut down a few years ago under then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It is one of 14 that have been shuttered since 1989.

The clinic sits in Ald. Anthony Beale's 19th Ward.

He said not enough patients were using the facility to justify a full-time staff.

"We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money and not waste money just to fulfil a campaign promise," Beale said.

Years ago, closing city mental health clinics resulted in several community protests.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised to reopen some, but backed off when her administration concluded it was more economical for residents to be served by private facilities.

"I'm not those mayors; I made a promise I kept because it's going to save lives," Johnson said.

The city will also expand clinical services at an additional two city-run locations, including adding mental health services at a city-run clinic in the Lower West Side Pilsen neighborhood and co-locating services in the Legler Regional Library in West Garfield Park, the mayor's office said.

The mayor said this mission is personal to him as he recounted his own brother's death and struggle with mental health.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson spoke on Chicago's Mental Health System Expansion Thursday.

"Chicagoans suffering from mental health problems and their families have been neglected and discarded for far too long. That ends today. My administration will not stand for more cuts, more privatization, and more neglect of our City's mental health care system," Johnson said in a statement. "It is time for a new era of rebuilding our City's mental health care infrastructure to serve all of the people of Chicago."

In addition, under his Treatment Not Trauma plan, the mayor said he is phasing out police and fire responses to mental health calls, and replacing them with social workers.

"Our police officers and firefighters deserve to focus on holding criminals accountable and putting out fires, not responding to mental health crises," Johnson said.

But, there is a big mental health care worker shortage. Johnson-backed unions plan to help fill in the gap.

In addition, a new law in Illinois allows social worker candidates who fail the licensing test to take an alternative path by doubling their required hours.

"We noticed that there was a huge disparities and racial bias with a test, so that is something across the country that has kept people out of the profession," said Latesha Newson, with National Association of Social Workers Illinois.

While three mental health clinics were announced Thursday, Mayor Brandon Johnson plans further expansion of city-run facilities, but, how much it will cost taxpayers is not known.